...Have you ever thought to yourself of how long you have been working? Or when you would get to do what you are truly passionate for? I used to give the answer to myself that I would answer to this call when I have a better opportunity or more ready. Well, sometimes, both opportunity and readiness is there, but we might ignore it and pay attention to other thing. This time, I also get to think back by accident. I suddenly recalled to my teenage time when today I'm about 40 years old.....Thinking back 6 years earlier when I drove to Ban Pilok and spent a night at Thong Pha Phum National Park, Kanchanaburi Province. I remembered that morning I came down for breakfast and I looked around to got caught by mountains photo on the wall. I asked to learn that it was a mountain in Khao Chang Phuak National Park which later became a well known tourist attraction. At that time, I was thinking why didn't I hear or know about this place because I'm a local here, I only knew it when it became a famous place for trekking and tenting. So this notion have been disturbed me, especially the more I hear about it. Finally, 2 years after, I got the chance to see this mountain and it was my life turning point......
The First Trekking
If excluding the military student field work at Khao Chon Kai, this is officially my first trekking when I'm about to turn 40. I searched for all information before I went. Then I came to know the trekking tour from trekkerhut.com. We 5 people then join the team as this would be the easiest for a beginner like me....
.....We leave Bangkok and arrive Ban E Tong Home Stay around 03.00 a.m. then we take about 4 hours rest before start this journey. That morning, we had breakfast at Nong Noi Shop. P'Chang, our tour guide leader, takes care of Luk Hap (people who help us take our luggage up). He then takes us to start walking from the back of this village. There's a sign saying it is 8 km from here to Khao Chang Phuak which I have no idea how difficult this 8 km could have been for a beginner.....
Soon, we reach the entrance which could give us a bit sweat but sill fine. After that, the road is getting more rough, we go up and down and through the grass field in heat until we reach Ton San Resting Area. We asked people who return whether it's still far? They laugh and answer, not so far. I started to wonder now of whether I have made the right decision to start trekking when I'm quite old. I come all because of love and without much physical preparation.
From Ton San Resting Area, the path is getting more steep. When we reach an open field up there, the tour guide points to the mountain ridge in front of us and saying we are going to spend a night there. From here, it's really not that far. In fact, it's "close to eyes but far when walking". Then, we have our lunch but at that point, I almost can't eat but I must, so that I have energy to walk.
After walking through bamboo forest, now we start to walk on a ridge. The blow of cool wind could ease the hot. The view starts to open and allows us to see that we are surrounded by mountains. Clouds start to form and it looks like the rain is near. I walk and stop for photography in order to help relieve the feeling like having cramps.
Finally, we are now at our camping area for tonight which is on one of the mountains and about 500 meter away from the camp ground. Since it was a limited space there, we tent here instead which is quite good as we can fully see the entire mountains.
After setting the camp up, we rest about an hour before starting to trek to Khao Chang Phuak which looks not easy at all. We look and take photos of this gigantic Khao Chang Phuak. It looks just like a huge wall standing there to challenge small ambitious humans like us who would like to conquer it.
We walk down from Khao Channg Noi and towards the ground camp. It is quite steep route so the National Park has the robe set up. The ground camp is not so spacious. It can accommodate about 20-30 tents. From the ground camp, we are one of the first groups who get to go up. The path is quite thrilling, especially at the knife ridge where you have to climb along the rock and stand at the less than a meter long ridge with two deep valleys on both sides.
After the knife ridge, we walk down to a small hill and walk up again to conquer the Khao Chang Phuak which is 1,249 meter above the sea level. The view is 360 degree and open all around. Sometime, we can see the Khao Laem Dam. The staff say on the clear day, we could see the sea of Thawai, Myanmar. After Khao Chang Phuak, there's a walkway to another mountain, Khao Chang Plai, but it hasn't yet opened to public.
On Khao Chang Phuak, I let my mind free and flow far like the view in front of me. Is it this thing that I've been yearning for years? It's so worthy of all the hardship I endure. It is where few people could free themselves from work restrains and enjoy the pure mother nature.
The sun is getting low and the entire sky is dyed in orange but we didn't get to stay for the sunset because we were the first group to come up. After enjoying enough of this view, we must go down and let other groups come up. Due to this is a one lane path and it could get very dangerous when it's dark.
It's dark when we return to our camp. We cook, eat, and sleep at the tent. That night I couldn't sleep well due to slight rain and cool wind touching my body that I'm shivering. I was woken up to listen to every sound around me because the wind was so strong that it's like the giant hand was shaking our tent. So then I went out to pee. That the darkness was all around, I got hallucinated. Sometimes, it's like I heard strange sound but I must be conscious and calm my thought down. Instead, now I'm listening to the mother nature sound. When I looked at Luk Hap, they live such a simple life. They just simply built up their sleeping area by taking fertilizer bags to make the roof and bed hidden behind the grass.
The next morning, the fog is covered the entire area, the visibility is only less than 5 meter and the wind is so strong. We have a quick breakfast, pack up the tent, and get ready to go down.
Once we are down, we find something to freshen up and the best drink is pepsi, it helps with the thirst and truly refreshing! Then we take shower and again have our lunch at Nong Noi Shop. Then, we are up and say goodbye to Ban E Tong. On the way back, we stop by the Khao Chang Phuak Viewpoint inside Thong Pha Phum National Park and get the certificate which is issued by the National Park to acknowledge that we have conquered Khao Chang Phuak. I'm not sure if the certificate is still in practice because Khao Chang Phuak have been closed for two years and this year is not going to open from the latest news due to the heavy rain and the path is extremely slippery as reported by the National Park. Also, it is the habitat of wild elephants who move from Sai Yok....
..And here is the story that changed my life. From that day on, I travel every year, several times a year. I also get to learn to take photos and welcome lots of good things into my life like good friends who share the same passion, we get to know one another and fight the hard times together. I also have a hobby and get extra job from it. Now I become a photographer, writer, blogger, etc. I'm a freelance blogger at readme, I collect points and exchange for a free trip. I'm very happy now. What about you? Have you encountered your life changing turning point that make you happier yet?....Let's start a journey together....Once a year, go to the place we have never been and we will find lots of beautiful and attractive things waiting for us to discover....
For more information about Khao Chang Phuak trip, please click: information
****Latest update on 10/12/2016, Khao Chang Phuak has opened to public again *******
Terms of booking Khao Chang Phuak Trip from Thong Pha Phum National Park Page:
1. Book a trip no more than 7 days in advance
2. The reservation number is 0 3451 0979 and 09 8252 0359 from 08.00-16.30 p.m.
3. No more than 10 people per 1 tour guide staff
4. We must apply with our first name, last name, and ID number as well as sending a copy of everyone's ID card to E-mail : [email protected] within a day.
5. Registration at Tourist Information Center from 07.00-08.00 a.m.
6.Here are the entrance fee of the National Park:
- Adult (Thai nationality) is 40 THB, Children is 20 THB (Thai nationality)
- Foreign Adult is 200 THB and Foreign Children is 100 THB.
- Transportation cost: Car is 30 THB, scooter is 20 THB.
- Tenting Fee is 30 THB/person/night
7. One tour guide staff for 10 tourists is 1,800 THB.
One Luk Hap takes no more than 30 kg bag and it is 1,300 THB.
8. For food, it should be easily cooked, picnic gas is recommended.
9. One should prepare more than 3 liters of drinking water.
10. Traditional toilets are available on the mountain but one should also prepare wet tissues.
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